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  • Divide & Rule ? Reasonable requirements for "nodes"

    I'm new to the Vienna Instruments family, so bear with me if some of this is ... 

    I'm currently planning my new studio setup. (well, the digital part, that is)

    Why I consider using a multi-computer setup

    As probably many of you, I use both "real instrument" emulations e.g. Vienna Dimension Strings, Synthogy Ivory etc, but also demanding virtual instruments e.g. Spectrasonics (which also rely on samples + a lot of DSP !) , FXpansion, U-He etc. , and effect plugins (Waves ao). 

    Although there is a certain elegance, and certainly a lot of ease-of-setup in the "single big music computer" scenario, where DAW and all virtual instruments / effects reside in one system, I personally feel that there are some serious minusses as well :

    • for a  really big system, the cost becomes very high - due to the fact that to get top performance, you will pay top money for the latest / fastest CPU's; motherboards that can handle 32+ GB memory, etc.  (there certainly is a law on diminishing returns if you take a look at high-end  CPU pricing !)
    • what is considered "lots of memory" , "high speed" today, becomes - very fastly - barely enough (as I noticed : a single instance of U-He DIVA can take over an Intel i7 just like that …)
    • all plugins in one environment increases the likelihood that they negatively "influence" each other  - there will always  be some form of resource contention
      • e.g. even if you have separate hard disks (SSD's) for system / audio / samples : once you have a number of sample playing plugins/instances accessing the same SSD, they will have a negative impact on each other
      • if a plugin has a certain "average" CPU use , but spikes from time to time (e.g. normal level + 50%), that might (should) not be a problem - however, if the spikes of multiple plugins coincide ... you have an issue (the kind of issue that comes unexpected, and often hard to predict)

    Dividing the load on multiple system (a scenario made possible by the fantastic VSL VEPro software) seems to be a more strategic/stable choice :

    • it allows you to dedicate systems to one or more plugins (avoiding "collateral damage"), 
    • you can use mid-specced  computers - saving money. (unless you're Hans Zimmer, of course, then you'll just buy a server-farm [;)])
    • you can add capacity easily, just add a new (cheap) computer !
    • on top of that, you can also combine multiple OS platforms
      • which provides highest flexibility : allowing you to use "any" DAW/plugin, 
      • and provide the best performing environment (some DAW's / plugins really run better on some platforms !).

    The downside : setting up the whole thing (with added complexity if you use multiple OS's), adding plugins to a track in the DAW involves some additional steps using VEPro.

    My Questions :

    • In general : what's the experience of others in this ?
    • What is a "minimal useful computing node" for a virtual instrument like Vienna Dimension Strings ?
      • What are the requirements (CPU, Memory, Disc speed) for a computer to run this kind of library as a whole
      • What are the requirements for a computer to run a section (e.g. just the violins) of this kind of library
    • I have an opportunity to acquire some Apple XServe (2008) systems : does anyone have experience using these for a Vienna VI ? Anyone using it in this kind of setup ?
    • is anyone using a VLAN to provide a closed & high-priority network for VEPro hosts ?
    • is anyone using a SAN to provide (Sample) storage to multiple systems ?
    • How about using a (decent) laptop as a front-end (mobility !) running just the DAW ? 

    Thanks for reading - looking forward to your reactions !


  • >> How about using a (decent) laptop as a front-end (mobility !) running just the DAW ?
    This is what I do, and there's one caveat that might or might not be important to you. The sound produced by the laptop CPU fan is pretty annoying on some models. If you could avoid the high CPU load on the laptop's side, which is often possible (for example, if only a primary VST host runs), then this problem is non-existent. Otherwise, consider putting a laptop in some place where the noise won't disturb you.

  • . I have an opportunity to acquire some Apple XServe (2008) systems : does anyone have experience using these for a Vienna VI ? Anyone using it in this kind of setup ?

    In Logic I have noticed two days ago that VSL AU are "nodeable" but I have not try this, did somebody tried it

    See my setup. You can play a full symphony like "From the New world" of Anton Dvorak this with tremolos made with notes

    MacBook Pro M3 128 GB 8TB - 2 x 48" screen - Most of the VI libs, a few Synch... libs - Quite a few Kontakt libs - CS80 fanatic